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Mr. Brattain, what do you really think?

John Brattain penned a nice piece today, over at The Hardball Times, about the current situation surrounding the Marlins proposed new stadium.

The entire article is definitely worth reading, but the closing paragraph sums it up pretty well:

Jeffrey Loria and MLB have no leverage. Miami-Dade County is holding all the cards. There is a generous enough deal on the table for a stadium. The Marlins are getting $166 million in free money for their stadium, which is $166 million more than they deserve. If the politicians in South Florida cave into Major League Baseball's threats, they, and the next ten generations of their families, should be held in contempt. They should go through life mocked and ridiculed, feeling the scorn of the public everywhere they turn. They should be spat on, made fun of, pointed at, and laughed at wherever they go. That would be a most fitting legacy for anyone who got outsmarted by Bud Selig holding a pair of threes.

Obviously, I'm about the last person who wants to see the Marlins leave town. I don't see the team picking up and going to Las Vegas as a real threat though. If it was legitimate, why wasn't the possibility of the Expos moving there discussed as a real possibility?

That said, I'm also not sold on the benefits of publicly financing this stadium - or any other one. For me to support such a thing, I'd really like to see someone lay out the details of the proposed economic benefits. To date the best argument that I've heard is that the Marlins need this stadium so that their financial situation can improve. A new stadium will allow them to maintain (in today's dollars) a $50 million payroll without incurring losses. Unless you have a roster, like the Marlins currently do, where key contributors like Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera, and Josh Beckett are working for relative peanuts, it's tough to stay competitive on a shoe-string budget. The Marlins won't always have such luxuries. Eventually a $50 million payroll will catch up with them, particularly when the farm system, as good as it has been, is regularly raided to pick up an Ugueth Urbina here and a Jeff Conine there.

Even if they do keep finding cheap gems like Cabrera and Willis, that still doesn't mean that it makes sense for the city, county, and or state to put up $150 million or more to shift the economic benefit of a baseball team from one super-rich person to another (merely) rich person.